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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science
Office-led project

Supporting 3Rs approaches in biologicals testing

At a glance

In progress
Current contacts


  • Replacement
Needle in a vial of vaccine

Project overview

Up to 10 million animals a year are used worldwide in the development, production and quality control of biologicals such as vaccines (e.g. diphtheria, tetanus and polio), immunoglobulins (e.g. snake antivenoms), blood products and hormones. More than two-thirds of these animals are used for routine quality control batch release tests of licensed products. These tests are expensive, can cause significant pain and distress to the animals and have a high degree of variability which may cause lengthy delays of up to a year to the release of some biologicals and vaccines. 

With previous Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funding we have reviewed the animal testing requirements in World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for the quality control and batch release testing of vaccines and biological therapeutics. This follow-on project funded by the Gates Foundation will support delivery of the 3Rs impacts of our recommendations, driving their implementation and accelerating the adoption of the latest non-animal testing methods by the global biologics community. Embracing the latest advances in replacement technologies will support faster access to cheaper vaccines by the communities who need them most urgently. 

Project aims

We aim to drive the global adoption of non-animal testing strategies in order to optimise quality control testing of biological products by:

  • Supporting the WHO in implementing the recommendations from our review.

  • Facilitating the uptake of existing non-animal technologies for batch release testing by global biologics manufacturers and regulators.

  • Supporting the development of new 3Rs approaches for batch release testing where they are needed most urgently, for example in assessing potency and neurovirulence.

  • Building an evidence base for the removal of obsolete animal tests.